Expat Tip: Bangkok Electricity Sockets and Plugs

WARNING: This post is highly specific to those moving to Thailand/Bangkok and potentially goes into far more detail about power sockets and power boards than many could understand anyone wanting – until they are faced with the pre-pack-preparation helplessness of the expat-wife before “the locusts” come which can only be assuaged by copious browsing of the interwebs reading detailed posts like this!

One of the first things I did when I found out we were moving to Bangkok was look up the power options. Finding the voltage was pretty easy: it’s 220 (so Europe, UK, Australia, NZ appliances do not need transformers to run, but the US, Japan and anyone on 100-110 will)  but which plugs were available was not so easy. Sure, I found the charts which told me that plug types A and C were used in Thailand and that meant the two pronged round ones, like in Europe and the two prong straight ones like in the US and Japan, but all I really wanted was this:

Bangkok socket

I did, eventually find photos like this on a couple of sites but they were described as “universal” and I didn’t take a good look so we were a little disappointed when we got here, because they ain’t universal y’all – they won’t take the enormous British plugs, nor the daintier, angled ANZAC ones (spot the pun Smile.) It’s not a big problem, though, because there are lots and lots of genuinely universal adaptors available, including power boards from 3 to 6 plugs and cost from 200 – 500baht (at the more expansive stores).

If you use the British or Australian type sockets, here’s what to look for in a truly universal socket:

Universal Socket

The second circle in the middle and the extra dips in the top two holes accommodate the Australian plug and while the extra width of the top two holes and the bottom hole accommodates the British plug (obviously the bottom holes being for grounding third prongs, in any type.)

One of the other things you will notice if you are from countries which don’t just have constantly live sockets on their walls (as our friends from the States pointed out to us in Sydney) there are no switches on the Bangkok power outlets, to turn them off. Now, I’m sure that if I’d grown up with that, it would be fine, but it kind of freaks me out – especially in the bathroom – so I was happy to find both power-boards and single adaptors which had switches for each outlet.

Switches make extra Space

The beauty of the power-boards having these switches  is that they also create more space between each socket, so that you can use plugs with large transformers on them (like for your notebook, or phone charger) and you don’t have to waste a plug between. Even if you have one of those appliances which, for some reason, has a plug set on an angle, there is still space for a normal sized plug beside it (though the switch will need to be left on, in this case.)

Diagonal plug

The stores you want to get your relocation agent to take you to find these are either “PowerMall” which are in the big “Department Stores” (which is what the Thais call a mall) there is one on the 5th floor of Emporium (cnr Sukhumvit road and Soi 24) and another in Siam Paragon, or, the cheaper option is any of the HomePro stores (if you go out to the big one outside Bangkok, you can pretty much get everything you need to build your own house and furnish it there!)

So you know what you are looking for, here are some packaged pics:

These are the ones we got from PowerMall this three plug cost 266 baht – slightly more expensive than ones you’d get at HomePro but nice and solid (and they will exchange them any time if there are problems):

3 plug packaging Powermall3 plug packaging with price

These are some available at HomePro, I didn’t get prices, sorry, but they were all cheaper than at PowerMall (I’ve no idea how the build quality felt):

Universal power-board with switches and Universal Long Lead

Universal Powerboard HomeProUniversal Long Lead HomePro

Plain A&C Grounded Power-Board and a roll-up long lead with 3 A&C ungrounded plugs with one switch for all.

A&C powerboard with switches HomeProUngrounded A&C Longlead and board HomePro

So there you go, when deciding what to bring the answer is that any plug can be accommodated, you just need to make sure that anything not running on 220-240volts either has a transformer brick on the power cord or you will have to buy a step-up/step-down transformer here (also available at the same stores Smile )

Good luck!

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